What Do Following Jesus & Training for an Ironman Have in Common? Part 4: Trust Your Training

In this series’ two previous blogs, I offered a sort of introduction, written in red, to explain how this blog series started and its objective. From this blog forward, instead of putting this introduction at the beginning, I have tacked it onto the end. If you are new to the series, please take a moment to scroll down and read the brief introduction written in red.

Part 4: Trust Your Training

This blog entry, Part 4: Trust Your Training, and the entry to follow, Part 5: Trust your Coach, go hand-in-hand, because, to some extent, the degree to which you trust your coach will be reflected in how well you trust your training. But, I’m getting ahead of myself. Back to the beginning, to training…

For most Ironman hopefuls, the journey starts a full year before their race. For Claude and me, it began as volunteers at IMFL ‘13, so that we could have the opportunity to get in a line with hundreds of other people early the next morning, thereby guaranteeing us a spot in IMFL ’14.  (As insane as it sounds, if you are not present for onsite registration, you will not get a spot.) After hurdling the first dozen or so, “Oh my gosh! What have I done?” an athlete must decide on a training plan. Claude and I are blessed with numerous friends who have successfully completed multiple Ironmans, so we turned to them for advice. Our friend, Allison, created a plan for us, and we followed it like our lives depended on it. (I actually have more to say about the way in which we “choose a plan” in Part 5, so hold that thought.)

The physiology behind endurance event training is fascinating, and I certainly lack the expertise to offer much worthwhile information. However, over the years, I have realized a few general things about endurance training plans, and each of these elements proved to be even more pertinent when it came to training for an Ironman.

·      First, you must have an established goal. In our case, complete an Ironman, all 140.6 miles in the allotted seventeen hours, preferably with a smile.
·      Second, before beginning a specified training plan, you must have an appropriate base on which to build. In our case, we needed to be able to swim one mile, bike fifty-six miles, and run eight miles.
·      Finally, a typical plan, building from a base, begins sixteen to twenty weeks prior to the event.

Specifically, during the course of the training plan, an athlete completes a series of build weeks, followed by rest weeks. While this may sound lovely, it does cause some panic when the athlete faces the reality that he rode 100 miles last Saturday, but his schedule only calls for thirty miles this Saturday. Also, please note that, with most plans, you don’t ever go the full Ironman distance during training, except maybe the swim. For example, most long bike rides never exceed 80-100 miles, and the longest run is rarely more than three hours. (Consider this: if you run ten-minute miles, which would be a very nice pace in an IM, three hours only gets you eighteen miles down the course!) On top of that, most training schedules never stack long workouts. For example, after Saturday’s long ride, we hopped off the bikes and did three half mile intervals. That’s it. Before our long Sunday morning run, we slept!

Are you beginning to get the picture? Can hear the roots of doubt? Can you really expect to follow a plan with the above-mentioned elements and finish 140.6 miles in the allotted seventeen hours? Am I the only one out there or does it seem sketchy, even counter-intuitive to anyone else? Well, I must not be alone, because, during the twenty weeks of training, the phrase Trust Your Training became commonplace, with the repetition of it building to a repeated frenzy during final weeks and days leading up to the event. In fact, at least half a dozen friends have texted that phrase to me this morning. Heck, I’ve been muttering to myself incessantly since seeing Saturday’s forecast for NNW 21 MPH winds!

So, what does all this talk about training plans have to do with following Jesus? I have come to experientially believe that Jesus is using your today to prepare you for your tomorrow. Granted, we lack the foreknowledge to know what tomorrow’s race will be, but God knows. And He is not wasting one bit of whatever you are going through today. He is training you, strengthening, and preparing you to go tomorrow’s distance. Following God’s plan, whatever He has set before you to do today, will get you through the finish line. He has promised. Sent His Son, Jesus, to show us. Sends His Spirit to empower us.

The question is: Will we live life worried and anxious about what is to come? Or will you do what is set before you, resting in the knowledge that God lays perfect plans, always using your today to prepare you for the tomorrow He knows.

'Do not fear, for I am with you;
Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you, surely I will help you,
Surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.
Isaiah 41:10

Hello. My name is Monica, and I’m addicted to endurance sporting events. Early in my life it became apparent that I was not the fastest kid on the block, but I possessed the desire, drive, and discipline to go further. I completed my first marathon in my late twenties, and with that came my first endurance-sport-training-object-lesson on following Jesus. Since then, I literally expect spiritual lessons to be birthed throughout whatever physical challenge I undertake. My current endeavor? An Ironman – a triathlon comprised of a 2.4 mile swim immediately followed by a 112 mile bike and then 26.2 mile run – to be completed within 17 hours on 11/1/14 in Panama City Beach, Florida. Training for Ironman Florida (IMFL) has literally been a yearlong process, and I have been journaling all along the way. As the final countdown to IMFL nears, I will be reflecting on the journey, turning some of my journal entries into blogs to share with you. My prayer is that what Jesus has lovingly taught and shown me through the highs and lows of this journey might become life-giving Truth to you, too.